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Open space district to close all preserves in San Mateo County on weekends

Original post made on Apr 10, 2020

Starting Saturday, April 11, all of the public open spaces operated by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in San Mateo County will be closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 10, 2020, 11:56 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2020 at 1:39 pm

So much selfish behavior in San Mateo County. They have no choice but to close all the parks to protect everyone else.

Posted by Jon Castor
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Apr 10, 2020 at 2:39 pm

I take the virus and social distancing very seriously. Still I’m wondering, have ‘we’ really behaved badly crowding into the parks? Personally I’ve stayed away recently so haven’t had an opportunity to observe ‘live’. Have see plenty of video in the past weeks of crowds elsewhere but haven’t seen the videos of us doing that sort of thing here. Have I missed them?

Posted by jgftw
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 10, 2020 at 7:40 pm

I’ve been out to the parks, like usual, a few times a week, and what I’ve seen is exactly what you’d hope for: people keeping their distance and being respectful. There are more people there than usual because barring these short reprieves they are otherwise forcibly locked in their houses. That isn’t a reason to close the parks, and it’s a joke that they’re acting like “more visitors than usual” is somehow bad behavior we should be punished for.

Closing these parks has nothing to do with “protecting us.” These local bureaucrats are just opportunistic about their newly normalized power to tell people what to do.

Posted by Dave
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Apr 10, 2020 at 9:20 pm

Today our small community was overrun by people invited by the Mid Peninsula Open Space District. The San Mateo County Health Officer directed the District to close all SM County parks on weekends...The Open space decided to reopen on weekdays??? The District has failed to choose the interest of our medical professionals and most vulnerable individuals, over those who find great angst in having to walk in their own neighborhoods...

Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2020 at 10:07 pm

Close a few parks
Notice more people at the parks that are open
Close some more parks
Notice more people at the parks that are open
Close yet more parks
Notice more people at the parks that are open

Perhaps the problem is better solved by opening parks and limiting occupancy, instead of further limiting where people can go for a tiny bit of fresh air and freedom of movement.

Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 10, 2020 at 10:53 pm

A puzzling and illogical move. The clear trend is showing fewer new cases and manageable hospitalizations. If anything, our acceptance of social distancing measures is working, so why impose further restrictions?

At some point we’re going to have to face facts: there’s no way to completely eliminate this or every other risk in our lives. Come up with a reasonable plan, explain the risks, and almost every citizen will abide by them.

Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 10, 2020 at 11:00 pm

By the way, for those claiming our open spaces are “overrun” with careless people sneezing on one another, I hiked at Russian Ridge Thursday afternoon. My car was literally the only one in the entire parking lot. I did not encounter a single person (other than the awesome park ranger) for the entire 3 hours.

People are doing a great job abiding by the restrictions. Why punish good behavior?

Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2020 at 2:43 am

A sad example of “social” (physical) distancing theater.

We must do something! This is something. Therefore we must do it!

Posted by Dave
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Apr 11, 2020 at 9:29 am

John, Good to know that you declared the pandemic over in San Mateo County. I feel relieved that the trails are clear; your hyperbole and anecdotal observation bring closure. Are you aware that Portola Valley directed the Open Space to close Windy Hill do to the size of the crowds? SM county has shutdown all their parks. Mountain Home Rd is about 12 miles from Russian Ridge, pretty sure that the shelter in place order restricted essential trips to 5 miles... but hey that's for someone else to worry about. FYI, all of these decisions are directives from San Mateo County Health.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2020 at 9:53 am

"FYI, all of these decisions are directives from San Mateo County Health."


Just because it's from SMCH doesn't automatically make it right or good decision.

Posted by bemused
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2020 at 10:09 am

@John, I think I'll follow your example and find somewhere to hike this weekend more than 5 miles from my home. It's a great time to take advantage of other people's compliance to have the empty trails to myself! If I get caught, I can say I wasn't aware of the 5 mile rule.

Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 11, 2020 at 5:06 pm


I never declared the pandemic "over", and I never advocated for easing any of the reasonable measures we are already following. If anyone is being hyperbolic it is you, claiming parks are overrun when anyone who actually visits one will confirm that they are not.

You can be as sarcastic as you want, and chastise me (and many others) for asking legitimate questions about why officials imposed new restrictions when the old ones are working. I suppose that's easier than actually addressing the question.

All I'm saying is, you can walk down any street in Woodside, Menlo, Palo anywhere -- and encounter dozens of people walking and cycling. Many are being responsible but some are not. It makes no sense that you're fine with this, but going to an open space with miles and miles of terrain (and far fewer people) is somehow not OK.

"Because we say so" is not a persuasive argument!

Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

Glad to see that some of you observed social distancing at parks.

I have not.

I went to several parks and trails a couple of weeks ago and there was no social distancing at all. Crowds of people walking past each other. Groups of friends meeting up.

In some cases, it was impossible to social distance. The trails were not wide enough, and there were too many people, including families with 5+ people taking up the entire width of the trail. In other cases, it was possible, but no effort was made. People walked right in the middle of a path, instead of off to the side. Even when somewhat off to the side, groups of 2+ people walked side by side when passing others, instead of in a single file line. When effort to distance could have obviously been made, people instead chose to pass others or walk too closely.

What I saw called for an immediate shut down of parks. I realize that this did not happen everywhere, but if certain parks/trails shut down and not others, people would migrate to the ones that were open. Trust me, if you saw what I saw, you would 100% support the shut down of parks and trails.

Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 12, 2020 at 11:44 am


I completely believe that you observed people not social distancing in parks. I'm sure it happens, there are no absolutes.

However, that doesn't address the question: why close open spaces and force even more people into even tighter spaces (our streets, etc.)? it's simply illogical to create crowding conditions on our streets, which is effectively what this order does.

It's even more puzzling to do so when overall observance of social distancing has been strong and is already producing good results.

Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2020 at 9:51 pm


The issue of not social distancing in parks isn't just an occurrence here or there.
It was extremely prevalent, all the time, in many many places. The impact was hundreds and hundreds of people crowded in areas for long periods of time. There was not even a way of social distancing at many parks; trails were too narrow and instead of leaving and choosing a different park, people decided to pursue hiking/walking anyway. So to essentially break up these huge crowds is a big win.

It is probably easier and more straightforward to just close everything. If you close one park, everyone will go to another. And crowd previously uncrowded areas. The best bet is to shut it all down.

The streets have a few more people but the side walks are not significantly more crowded. I haven't seen anything like what I was seeing in parks. People on sidewalks do make more of an effort to distance, and can cross the street if needed. Most people are staying inside versus walking outside on the street anyway, and if they are taking a walk, it is fairly short. I think announcing the parks are closed has dissuaded people from going outside and treating this like a vacation.

Posted by La Hondan
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Hello All:

Speaking as someone who lives on the Southcoast, I can tell you that crowds of people coming into the small communities in this area was a huge problem the first weekend after SIP was ordered. People were not social distancing, were buying up limited supplies of goods in small local stores (leaving not much for the people who live out here.) Plus, the roads were overrun with more than the usual complement (for this time of year) of tourists, riders, racers and bikes. It was really a mess. So please don't take it out on San Mateo County, it was the local residents who contacted our representatives to complain about the traffic and risk that was straining our already limited resources out here. I can also say, since I can hear Highway 84 from my house, that there has been a big uptick in car and motorcycle clubs racing on Highway 84 (and, presumably, 35.) There have been some serious accidents, which have closed our necessary roads, shut off our power, and drawn emergency responder resources. I'm sorry that the beautiful trails are not available to everyone, and that a limited group of people who were being inconsiderate led to the loss of a resource for many. But it really, truly was a big problem out here. Thanks for your understanding.

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